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Lewiston, NY

Strawberry Moon Festival to Celebrate Indigenous Culture

Posted by 
J.M. Lesinski
J.M. Lesinski
A shot of the front entrance of Artpark in Lewiston, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

As summer kicks into full gear at Artpark in Lewiston, New York, an upcoming festival at the venue aims to provide those attending a cultural immersion in indigenous cultures unlike anything they have experience before.

The Strawberry Moon Festival will take place on Saturday, June 19 in Artpark’s Amphitheatre. General admission is free, while tickets to the musical performances beginning at four in the evening will be seven dollars. Ticket information is forthcoming.

The announcement of the festival follows Artpark’s recent notice of the postponement of two other major concerts in their summer concert series: Patti Labelle, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, June 22, and King Crimson with the Zappa Band, which was originally schedule for Monday, June 28 at the Artpark Main Stage Theatre.

The Strawberry Moon Festival will be celebrating Western New York and Canadian area indigenous cultures at the one day extravaganza through the appreciation of cultural music, traditional dances including a smoke dance competition, and a number of arts and crafts projects.

Produced by Artpark in collaboration with Kakekalanicks Indigenous Arts & Consultancy, as well as the Elders Advisory Council, Allan Jamieson Senior of the Cayuga Nation, and Neil Patterson Senior of the Tuscarora Nation, the annual summer event has been lauded for its efforts in blending these ancient traditions alongside the COVID-19 compliant requirements and accoutrements of modern culture in their development of the Strawberry Moon Festival.

“Not just a music festival, Strawberry Moon celebrates the fact the sky does not acknowledge borders, as different cultural factions from Western New York and Canada gathered to honor the beginning of a new season and tip their collective cap to the land that sustains us all,” The Buffalo News noted of the 2019 Strawberry Moon Festival at Artpark.

In addition to the celebration of traditional dances and arts, the Strawberry Moon Festival will also feature indigenous food sampling areas, local tribal workshops, and a number of music presentations alongside the live performances scheduled. The diverse collection of culturally expressive experiences will shine a light on native culture in ways never before imagined.

The Strawberry Moon Festival will feature four different musical acts during the celebration. The Martha Redbone Roots Project was announced first. Martha Redbone, a Native and African-American vocalist, composer, and educator from Harlan County, Kentucky is most known for her unique mix of gospel, blues, and folk in her music.

Also performing at Strawberry Moon will be Lakota John. Blending the traditional stylings of Piedmont acoustic and Delta blues, John is known for his incredible skill with the bottleneck slide guitar. Growing up listening to an extensive blues collection, John learned to play the harmonica at age seven, then the guitar at age nine. John is a 2015 NAMA (Native American Music Awards) nominee and has performed with blues icon Taj Mahal, as well as Native acts Pura Fe and Keith Secola.

Charly Lowry will also be making an appearance at Strawberry Moon Festival. Born and raised in Robeson County, North Carolina, Lowry combines soul, hip-hop, and rhythm and blues with her traditional Native American rhythms and melodies. Maintaining close ties to her culture and roots, Lowry blends these musical genres in compelling ways to share her stories with the world.

Closing out the musical performances at Strawberry Moon Festival is Tonemah. Often described as “The Eagles’, Steve Earle, Dave Mathews, and James Taylor’s lovechild,” Darryl Tonemah has created his own musical niche, which he refers to as “Native Americana.” A full-blooded mix of Kiowa, Comanche, and Tuscarora, Tonemah combines the raw energy of rock and roll with the inquisitive and thoughtful nature of folk music.